Kyle Alderson, who won school bus safety speech contests in high school, used a yellow bus as a shuttle in his recent wedding. The banner on the back says "Just Hitched! Allie & Kyle."
For Kyle Alderson, having a school bus involved in his wedding wasn't just a fun and eye-catching way to get from the ceremony to the reception — it was also a meaningful link to his efforts for school bus safety in his youth.
As a ninth-grader in Muldrow, Okla., Alderson won the second annual Oklahoma School Bus Safety Speech Contest in 2001. Then he went on to win the national-level contest after it began in 2002.
But Alderson took the message of pupil transportation safety beyond the speech competitions.
"The more I got into it, the more I realized how important of an issue it is," he told SBF in a recent interview.
In researching his speech, Alderson had discovered that the wide majority of school bus rider fatalities occur while boarding or exiting the bus rather than on board. He felt compelled to take action.
Alderson struck up a relationship with Randy McLerran, then Oklahoma's state pupil transportation director and the founder of the state's speech contest. With McLerran's help, the high school student launched a program to teach younger kids how to stay safe when they take the yellow bus.
Alderson and several classmates took the program, which was presented in the form of a puppet show, to schools around Oklahoma.
Scholarships he won in the school bus safety speech contests went toward Alderson's college education, and he went on to attend law school. Now, he serves as assistant district attorney for the Osage and Pawnee counties in Oklahoma.
As Alderson and his fiancée, Allie, were planning their wedding, they considered various forms of transportation for the wedding party: limo, taxis, trolley. It was Allie who thought to employ a school bus.
Alderson got in touch with McLerran, who retired as state director last year and joined National Bus Sales. The company provided a school bus for Alderson's April 21 wedding, with McLerran on board and his supervisor, Craig Van Doorn, at the wheel.
"We were thrilled to death," McLerran said. "We transported the entire wedding party to the reception and Kyle and Allie to their honeymoon hotel."
Alderson said that since many folks from his hometown of Muldrow couldn't make the trip to Tulsa for the wedding, the big, yellow vehicle was a poignant symbol.
"Having a school bus," he said, "represented a big part of my childhood and the things I did in Muldrow."
— Thomas McMahon, executive editor
| posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 3:50 PM